6 Ways to Avoid Food Waste at Meetings and Events

Did you know the average event wastes between 15% - 20% of the food it produces? That's 1.3 billion tons annually. Learn how to incorporate sustainability into your event with these 6 Ways to Avoid Food Waste.

How to Avoid Food Waste at Meetings and Events | BCD Meetings & Events

Anyone in events will tell you that there are many things a guest will forgive: AV failing, a speaker not quite hitting the mark - but running out of food is not one of them. With 42% of event feedback being about food, it is important an event organizer gets this aspect of their event right.

This is why the idea of "FORO" exists. It's the event industry's justified "fear of running out". So how do we, as an industry, manage to satisfy attendees and ensure we have enough food, without creating so much waste?

New research conducted by Lime Venue Portfolio, in partnership with BCD Meetings & Events, underlines the need for the event industry to take a lead in tackling food waste. In this post, we're highlighting how to avoid food waste (or FORO) at meetings and events. 

Food Waste White Paper, Free Download | Global agency, BCD Meetings & Events

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Based on conversations with experts within and outside of the meetings and events industry, we have compiled a list of 6 tips to help break the mindset of FORO and avoid food waste.

6 ways to avoid food waste at meetings and events

Bring guests into the conversation, from the outset.

If guests only knew how much some events waste, they’d be 100% on the side of the organizer looking to reduce it. So, speak to delegates from the outset; it’s a virtue and says a lot about the event’s values, it makes the delegates think about the cost of them not sharing dietary requirements or changing their minds. Make them a part of the conversation, it will be really rewarding for them.

Learn more on How to Start Planning Sustainable Events

Get the numbers right

It’s so important that the event organizers know who is coming, when they’re coming, and at least what they are planning to eat. Over-ordering and back up is a response to a lack of information ahead of an event; with more reliable information
we can reduce the amount of waste. Technology can be a big part of this, we can integrate menu data collection in event apps, and even onsite at the events.

How to Avoid Food Waste at Meetings and Events | BCD Meetings & Events

Create new menu formats, plants then meat

There are stories of events (OK, not banquets … yet) that have gone completely vegan without making a major issue of it. In the end the food spoke for itself and the guests were pleasantly surprised, many of them didn’t even notice. The sign on the wall doesn’t have to say; ‘meat free’ it can just say ‘great food’. A less dramatic option is to use meat as a side or garnish, so it’s not the main aspect of the plate. Finally, with so many vegans, veggies and healthy eating guests out there,
maybe it’s time to create a menu that doesn’t marginalize them, again, not veggie, not vegan, just great food.

How to Avoid Food Waste at Meetings and Events | BCD Meetings & Events

Use everything

Education is key here; we need to create a virtue in front of guests of cooking with ingredients that would usually be thought of as ‘wasteful’. Through our events we could be advocates for broccoli stems and eating the whole of the kale. If we get them on our side, we can reduce more waste in the kitchen and eventually the home!

Get chefs out into the event

This isn’t just about theater, although it does add an extra layer of authenticity and interest for the guest, it’s about chefs pushing different food options and being able to regulate waste in real time. Imagine chef cooking stations, where food is finished, carved and presented to tables, more options are given to the guests from these stations, perhaps something that they would not have chosen before. It adds to the event experience, but moreover it goes to the heart of regulating waste.

How to Avoid Food Waste at Meetings and Events | BCD Meetings & Events

Share the numbers

Delegates should be rewarded for helping the event reduce waste, so where possible share the results of initiatives in food waste. ‘How much did we throw away, of what, and how much better was this than last year / time?’ This approach not only rewards, it continually reminds delegates of the issues we face as an industry.

Are you interested in learning more ways to
incorporate sustainability into meetings and events?

Read about Eco-Friendly Venues Around the World

Originally published Nov 5, 2019 5:15:00 AM
Last updated on Jan 4, 2023 2:55:51 PM

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